Barbie started life in 1943 as the youngest of three sisters. Born and brought up in Christchurch, she left for her OE when she was twenty, travelling through America and Europe. She met her husband in London and returned to New Zealand with their two small children, Justin and Louise, in the 1970s.

After the couple parted she threw herself into bringing up their kids and become a teacher, in part, so the family had more time together. They lived in rural Canterbury where she remained, after they left home, with Peter her partner of 25 years.

Always interested in people and change she volunteered in the community, looked out for other locals and took up local environmental issues. She also continued to travel and tramp…a lot. Put simply, Barbie loved family, the outdoors, travel, people and sometimes golf!

On the morning of Wednesday, 6 October 2021 Barbie had a major stroke at home. She had a clear, valid advance directive in place withdrawing care, so she could be allowed to die, should she suffer a serious loss of mental or physical capacity.

Her directive was not followed and she was kept alive. The stroke left her unable to speak, read or write. With limited comprehension and movement she needed 24/7 care, possibly for many years.

Weeks later, when she could understand more, Barbie refused food and, in the end, fluids. She passed 58 days later, unmedicated until the last few days.


It came about because Barbie’s wishes were not followed, and it took a distressing 58 days for mum to starve to death. It does not need to be this way.

The family had talked about what happened with Barbie’s directive and Louise (daughter) came back to this midway through last year. With Peter (partner) and Justin’s (son) support, she put together Barbie’s Bill based on Barbie’s medical records and input from a doctor, nurse and lawyer.

Having read journalist Wendyl Nissen’s book about her mother, Louise contacted her. Wendyl got in touch Deborah Pead of Pead PR, who wanted to be involved for her mother. Between them, they put together the Barbie’s Bill campaign.

Louise also sent the Barbie’s Bill proposal to David Seymour of ACT, who agreed the party would take a Bill to parliament and suggested a petition.

You can support Barbie’s Bill by signing the petition and forwarding it to others who support the rights directives give. Thank you!

Barbie’s Bill will ensure advance care plans count and that a person’s wishes, their informed consent, must be followed.

It’s about giving people choice and control over their care, which can include the right to refuse care to allow them to control how they die.

The House of Representatives is being asked to put in place a national register so medical teams can instantly see if patients have advance directives and to adopt the Barbie’s Bill advance care plan template to create clear, effective standardised directives, with a mandate that directives are followed.

You can support Barbie’s Bill by signing the petition and forwarding it to others who support the rights directives give. Thank you!

Other things we think should be included are 

– making the national register a centralised database to allow for instant access, anywhere, anytime

– having advance directive doctors to provide timely, objective consultation about the application of a directive

– where care has been withdrawn, have more and better end of life care options 

– have an online end of life planning site with planning steps, directive templates and tools like letters at